Sunday, March 31, 2013

St Nicholas Lutheran Church in Haapsalu

Visited March 26, 2013

Happy Easter!

In celebration of the holiest day in the Christian calendar, I bring you St Nicholas Lutheran Church in Haapsalu, part of the Haapsalu Episcopal Castle.

I visited this church as I headed out to Hiiumaa for our America Days events there. I will be coming back to the castle this summer for some events we have scheduled (stay tuned, Public Diplomacy fans!), and I promise some additional (hopefully interior) pictures then.

This cathedral was constructed around 1265, and famous for the White Lady who believed to appear at the window of its baptismal chapel on full moon August nights (note to self...visit in August!).

Apparenlty during the reign of Ösel-Wiek Bishop, according to the monastary's rules, every canon was supposed to lead a chaste and virtuous life, and access of women to the Episcopal Castle was forbidden by threat of death. Legend has it that a canon fell in love with an Estonian girl and secretly brought her into the castle. She hid by dressing as a choirboy and remained a secret for a long time, but when the bishop visited Haapsalu again, the young singer caught his attention and he ordered an investigation of the singer's gender.[

When he discovered the singer was a girl, the bishop and his his council decided to entomb the girl in the wall of the chapel, and to imprison the canon, where he was starved to death. The girl was walled into a cavity in the wall, left with only a piece of bread and a mug of water. Her cries could be heard for some time, a warning to anyone else who might try such a trick. The legend says her soul could not find the peace and this is why she appears on the Baptistery’s window (pictured below) to grieve for her beloved and to prove the immortality of love. I think she appears because of the horrific way she died. Let's just say I'd be inclined to haunt a place where something like that happened to me!

The place still functions as a church (despite the ghost!). The congregation was dispossessed during the Soviet times, but the church was reconsecrated and restored in 1990.

Visited again May 8, 2013

I took a few other pictured while visiting today, including the one above of the window the White Lady appears in.

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